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Funeral set for Oklahoma City civil rights leader Clara Luper

A community funeral service for revered Oklahoma City civil rights leader Clara Luper will be 11 a.m. June 17 at the Cox Convention Center.
BY RANDY ELLIS Published: June 11, 2011

A community funeral for Oklahoma City civil rights leader and educator Clara Luper will be 11 a.m. June 17 at the Cox Convention Center arena.

Luper, who died Wednesday at 88, was revered as one of this nation's great civil rights leaders and as an educator who made a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of children through a 41-year Oklahoma City teaching career.

She helped transform the racial landscape of Oklahoma City forever when — more than 50 years ago — she led 13 neatly dressed black youths in a peaceful sit-in at the Katz Drug Store lunch counter to protest the restaurant's refusal to serve blacks.

On the third day of the protest, the drugstore relented. Luper and the youths successfully expanded their peaceful protests to other restaurants, helping eliminate one of the most visible forms of discrimination in the South.

“I had the pleasure of growing up under Mrs. Luper in the NAACP Youth Council during a very challenging and vicious time in our history,” said Jon Williams, a fellow civil rights activist who served with Luper when he was Tulsa NAACP president and Oklahoma State NAACP first vice president.

“She was a warrior in the struggle who stood up against the most powerful entities and people who stood in the way of progress, freedom and equal opportunity for all people, and Mrs. Luper did it quietly but with strength and dignity. Mrs. Luper literally changed the lives of thousands of people through her faith, determination, persistence and perseverance. ... Thank you, Mrs. Luper, for being there when others ran and hid.”

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